Best Pesto, By Request

☆ March 4, 2016


* I use walnuts instead of the traditional pine nuts because pine nuts are so much more expensive and have you heard of pine mouth? Pine mouth is a condition one can get after eating pine nuts where everything you eat tastes horribly bitter – no matter what it is you eat – and which can last for two weeks! Walnuts sub in just fine.

* If you are awesome you can use a suribachi bowl and pestle instead of a food processor. Like this. They are large bowls with a rough interior texture. But if you are busy and/or making a lot of pesto (I try to freeze a couple of gallons so I can have it weekly all year long) a food processor really is the way to go.

Recipe text:
2 cups basil leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp walnuts
2 cloves garlic
salt to taste
Mix together in food processor, then *stir* in:
1/3 cup parmesan (real!)
2 Tbsp Romano
You have now made pesto!
Divide into small jars to freeze and share.


21 Responses to “Best Pesto, By Request”

  1. Patr
    March 4th, 2016 @ 8:08 am

    Y – U – M!

    I have used peanuts successfully….. almonds were eh.

    Same recipe – but sub cilantro for basil and add a little red pepper flake – and you get a Mexican version!

  2. Amy
    March 4th, 2016 @ 8:13 am

    Here’s a basil free recipe if you don’t have fresh basil this time of year:

    I know that seems like missing the point of pesto, but this one still made me wolf whistle.

  3. Stacy
    March 4th, 2016 @ 8:18 am

    Great posts Shreve. I look forward to your daily post every morning.

    I have always used walnuts because pine nuts gives me headache. Now I use roasted pecans instead and we like it better.

  4. annnoe
    March 4th, 2016 @ 8:43 am

    Pine mouth is HORRIBLE, so yes to walnuts. Thanks for the recipe.

  5. Jeff
    March 4th, 2016 @ 8:53 am

    Love me some fresh pesto! Can’t wait for spring to start growing basil again.
    We form rounded blobs of pesto, maybe 2Tbsp, on wax paper on a tray and stick in the freezer. When frozen, pop them off the paper and bag ’em up. Then you can just pull out as many pesto blobs as you need. Have used ice cube trays in the past, but it can be a little hard to pop the pestocicles out of there.
    My clever wife learned last summer that if you briefly blanch the basil leaves in boiling water before making your pesto, it will stay a nice fresh green color when frozen! Otherwise it tends to get a very dark green/brown/black shade that is not very appetizing, IMO.
    Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  6. Carla DeLauder
    March 4th, 2016 @ 9:37 am

    Do you grow your own basil? It’s pretty expensive even for a tiny amount. I’d like to grow all of my herbs this year, but basil seems a bit finicky and may be difficult to grow in our super hot weather.

    Wonderful recipe, thanks for sharing!

  7. Steve
    March 4th, 2016 @ 9:49 am

    As a pesto lover myself, I feel compelled to offer suggestions:

    * 2/3 basil and 1/3 cilantro is fabulous!
    * Some lemon juice squeezed into mixture will keep the pesto a bright green.
    * Use pesto in place of mayo when making sandwiches

  8. Meg
    March 4th, 2016 @ 9:50 am

    Thank you Shreve =)

  9. Zorah
    March 4th, 2016 @ 10:27 am

    I survived the pine nut mouth incident of 2014. It was AWFUL.

  10. Scotty
    March 4th, 2016 @ 10:36 am

    yay, food porn

  11. Karen
    March 4th, 2016 @ 11:28 am


  12. Kal
    March 4th, 2016 @ 3:58 pm

    Great recipe! And probably a dumb question but what do you guys eat all this pesto with? I love it but can only eat so much bread or pasta.

  13. Heidi
    March 5th, 2016 @ 9:18 am

    Mmm, pesto! I used to order three pounds of organic basil from a local farmer each summer for my annual pesto-rama; I’d roll up my sleeves and make it all the same day, using a blender. I’ve never heard of pine mouth – I always used pine nuts (so, so delicious) without a problem. The ice cube method for freezing worked beautifully for me. Rethinking breakfast… Garlic omelet with mooshed avocado and a smear of pesto it is!

  14. Heidi
    March 5th, 2016 @ 9:23 am

    Kal, I just saw your comment. I used to make a sandwich with locally-baked (somewhat flat) olive cheese bread with pesto, sliced chicken breast (though it would be delicious vegetarian), smoky gouda cheese, sliced tomato and olives, grilled. Perfection!

  15. shreve
    March 5th, 2016 @ 11:04 am

    K ~ pesto on a fried egg is divine! I also put it in salad in lieu of dressing.

    C ~ I grow four bushes a year – they do great in the heat of WY summer… just prune them often!

  16. anita
    March 5th, 2016 @ 6:17 pm

    I have heard that pine mouth comes from pine nuts from China but US nuts won’t cause it.

  17. Monica
    March 6th, 2016 @ 10:37 am

    Great salad: potatoes, arugula, green beans (I like them Frenched) and pesto as dressing. Delicious.

  18. Kim
    March 7th, 2016 @ 6:49 pm

    Aahhhemmmm…shouldn’t this post be titled “Besto Pesto by Request-o”?

    Just saying.

    PS. I will definitely be making this when my basil comes in :)

  19. mlaiuppa
    March 8th, 2016 @ 8:38 pm

    I had never heard of pine mouth but I imagine it is from rancid moldy pine nuts. I do use them but only fresh. They should be sweet. I also use fresh garlic and the best olive oil I can afford.

    Olive oil and walnuts can go rancid so best to use fresh.

    While I love basil pesto and it is my favorite I’ve also made parsley pesto and sorrel pesto just to get me through the winter. All freeze beautifully. I don’t do the ice cube trays but that is really handy for the parsley and basil pesto for seasoning dishes as it is pre-measured. I prefer fresh parsley in my soup and the olive oil and cheese just gives it a bit of extra zing. I made the sorrel pesto to go with a baked salmon recipe I have. I have some very small containers and I put about 2-4 TBSPs in each so it’s perfect for when I make pesto deviled eggs.

    I use a blender because I don’t have a food processor so I do it in smaller batches.

    A trick to keep it green is to pour a small layer of olive oil on top before freezing it or putting it in the refrigerator. It blocks the air from reaching the pesto.

  20. Laura
    March 9th, 2016 @ 5:12 pm

    awesome – thanks!

  21. Joyce Bell
    March 9th, 2016 @ 8:51 pm

    Thanks for recipe Shreve! BTW Pine nut mouth is a real thing. I experienced it from 2 or 3 raw Whole Foods bulk pine nuts from China. Everything tastes bitter, metallic or in my case, like I was licking Dawn dish detergent. Coffee, wine, OJ, countless foods tasted simply awful, the bitterness intensifies as you eat or drink, and it lasted at least 10 days for me. I will never knowingly eat another pine nut because of the experience. For more about it see and the Damn You Pine Nuts Facebook page.

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